Bad Decision

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It’s getting so beautiful out, I said.

There’s too much technology and multitasking in your life, I said.

Slow it down, I said.

There’s a nearly-never-used swingset in your backyard, I said.

Life’s too short not to enjoy the simple pleasures, I said.

You’ll enjoy your coffee more, I said.

How peaceful it would be, I said.

Not to self: when attempting to find a place to sit and be with nature and be all contemplative and unplug from the world, try finding a sitting spot that’s a little more stationary.

If anyone asks, I didn’t spill my coffee; I poured one out for my homies on decaf.

Al-Anon & Onwards

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It was only a matter of time.

I have a tendency to speed, to the point that going even the reasonable speed limits agitates me.  I’d had enough close calls with speed traps to know that it was only a matter of time until I actually got caught.

I was speeding down a familiar highway to a familiar destination when I glanced over far too late and saw the state trooper. I glanced down at my speedometer: I was closing in on 80 in a 65 mph zone.

Only a matter of time.

As predicted, the state trooper pulls up behind me and I make my way to the breakdown lane. I remove my sunglasses and grab my registration and wait.

“Going a little fast there, huh?” He says when he walks over.

“Heh, yeah…” I say sheepishly.

“Where are you heading to, if I may ask? What could you be in such a hurry for?”

I stumble for a second. I’m tempted to lie, minimize everything by circumventing the truth. Oh no where, no where in particular…

“Um, actually, I have an Al-Anon meeting I’m heading to,” I say. “The meeting’s in 15 minutes and I must’ve gotten ahead of myself.”

“Aaaah,” the trooper says. His voice had been jovial since the beginning, but now there’s a new softness to it. “Well, I do need your license and registration…”

As everything is run through the system, I find myself fighting back tears. For why, I can’t exactly say. I’m not afraid of getting a ticket, and the days of me bursting into tears over the slightest hint of being in trouble are long behind me. But there’s a bubbling up from somewhere deep, something from a place that, for all my radically vulnerable and expressive ways, I know I keep repressed.

“So I’m going to give you a warning here,” he says when he returns. “But be careful with your speed. That would’ve been an expensive ticket.”

“Thank you, thank you so much…” I begin to babble.

“Now, I kinda know about Al-Anon, but tell me: that’s for people in recovery, right?”

“Basically,” I reply. “It’s for those affected by someone addicted. The same way AA is for the someone in recovery, Al-Anon is for the family of that person.”

“And you would be part of that family, I gather.”

“Yup.”

“Ah…Been there myself. I know what that’s like,” he says, trailing off, his eyes on the road behind me, his voice as distant as whatever it is he’s now looking out at. There’s a pause before he directs his attention back towards me. “You be safe now, okay? Watch your speed.”

“Will do. Thank you so much.”

“Have a good one.”

I pull back onto the highway, going 5 below the speed limit in the granny lane. Before I can even check my rear view mirror, I’m in tears. The kind of tears that you can’t even attempt to keep silent. The kind that draw out whimpers and yelps before you finally concede and let yourself cry to the degree you need to cry.

I drive past my exit for the meeting and keep going. I’m in the same raw newborn state I felt when I first started meetings — meetings I’d started as my own type of recovery after my father passed and I’d realized that I had hit my own version of rock bottom. But, unlike the cathartic rush from those first meetings, these tears feel cleansing and outright tender from the get-go. A welling to the surface of things that do no one any favors keeping down.

I end up pulling off a random exit and finding a nearby park. With my face a little less blotchy, I set out for a walk along one of the trails.

That day’s meeting did not take place in a rec room or church basement or function hall. That day’s meeting did not have any readings, or a motley of people in attendance.  That day’s meeting was a simple exchange between a trooper and a speeding driver. It lasted a fraction of the usual time, but the message was the same:

I know what that’s like. You’re not alone.

A few more tears roll down my cheek as I walk, the trails thankfully void of other people.  Up until my college years, I used to burst into tears over the hint of feeling like I was in trouble.  Perhaps now, I burst into tears over the hint of feeling like I’m safe.

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Projections

This is a repost from something I wrote on my Facebook writing page — Abby Rose Writer — and, if you haven’t liked that yet, what are you doing?  Get on that, already!  That is, unless you don’t have Facebook.  Then I simply applaud you for having way more productive free time than the rest of us.

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This is something I was thinking about recently, in terms of people I get along with and people I seem to have the worst time around.

(Oh yes, this is poetry AND a blog post. You’ve been forewarned.)

This might be me patting myself on the back, but I’d like to think I can get along with pretty much everyone. It’s partly due to positive reasons (it takes a lot to rub me the wrong way and I tend to default towards seeing the good in everyone) and partly due to negative reasons (I can be painfully unassertive and a bit of a chameleon if I feel that showing my true colors would cause friction). But, for the most part, I like people and enjoy most people’s company.

And then there are people that, on some energetic, je nes se qua level, I just can’t do well around them.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly about them that would cause such clashing. There weren’t any behavioral patterns I could identify (although being a raging, hateful bigot is a great way for us to not see eye-to-eye): the awkward, the charismatic, the outgoing, the reserved — it seemed like I had just as much of a chance at connecting with them as I did repelling from them.

It took a set of conversations with someone who didn’t really seem to be actually hearing what I was saying — or was only hearing it through the thickest filter you could find — before I realized what it was:

Level of projection.

We all project out into the world. To steal from Anais Nin, we don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. We project out ideals and values. We project motivations (and HOW MANY TIMES have we gotten ourselves into a sticky situation because we swore we knew a person’s motivations, only to be completely wrong?). We project out what we expect of the world and what we think is expected of us.

It becomes a balance of projection versus actual observation. And the level of projection varies greatly from person to person.

Unfortunately, some people don’t even observe the world at all. They interact with the world like it’s one gigantic movie projector screen. Sometimes, nothing bad would come of it. They project out, it lines up more or less with the perceived world of others, and we all move along.

And sometimes it doesn’t.

When that happens, those people splinter into two groups: those who realize how much they were projecting and reassess/recalibrate (this is a rare group and I applaud those who can do this, even on only rare occasions), and those who get pissed off that the world doesn’t line up with their projections.

And that’s the linking factor with every person I tend to clash with on that energetic, insert-French-saying-here, level.

And, again, I do that myself. Heavens knows it has taken over a decade of, at times, fruitless self-evaluation to notice when I’m one gigantic movie projector — not really perceiving the world so much as I am imagining it. I still get into conversations where I realize I’m projecting a whole slew of stuff, from motivations to word meanings to everything in between. This is not exactly an exact science, and I’m not exactly immune to the very thing I’m talking about.

But the key is in what happens next. Do we realize what we’re doing and at least attempt to be a little more open, or do we crank up the noise on our projectors and hope we can drown out what reality actually is? When we realize we’ve built faulty narratives about a certain situation, a community, a certain ideal or even a certain person, are we willing to reassess those views, or will we fortify them with self-righteousness and indignation?

I used to say that all it takes is a good heart and I’ll like the person in front of me, warts and all. Now I’m realizing I’m a tad more exclusive: a good heart and a willingness to shut down the projector from time to time.

//

Projections

She viewed the world
like a canvas, a blank sheet, something
flat and white to take in
what she projected out: her
ideas and ideals, what she thought
the world should be and how it all
should go

And how angry she got
whenever she found paint
and texture, scenes already drawn out

landscapes and portraits interrupting
her perfected projection

 

I be Buzzfeeding!

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Blog, you know I love you, but I have something to admit: you’re not the only one.

I know, I know. It’s probably hard to accept, but the signs were all there.  If I were truly exclusive to you, I would’ve been spending way more time with you.  Instead, I’ve been sporadic at best.  I hope you understand.  It’s not you; it’s me.

(Yeah, I’m not sure where I’m going with that, either.)

But the truth is I’m a bit of a scatter when it comes to my writing (you can check out my smorgasbord of other platforms in my publishing creds section), including my blog on my yoga page (which is the most neglected little blog you’ll ever meet).  And apparently I’m now including “making lists on Buzzfeed” to the list.

And since this blog can get a little serious sometimes, despite its tagline about being a humor blog (and, hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I make no bones about what I talk about, if only because I find it exhausting to pretend that we don’t all have something we’re dealing with or battling), I figured I’d link up what I created for Buzzfeed over here.

And – someday! – this blog will actually live up to its name as a humor blog.  Someday.  Until then, perhaps you’d appreciate knowing the 15 Ways the Struggle Is Real When You’re an Outgoing Introvert.